UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Palestinians took the first step toward raising their status at the United Nations from an observer to a nonmember observer state Thursday by circulating a draft resolution to the 193 U.N. member states and asking for their support.
The Palestinian observer mission said no decision has been made on when to submit the draft resolution to the U.N. General Assembly for a vote. Arab League foreign ministers are expected to discuss the draft and the timing of its submission at a meeting in Cairo on Nov. 12-13, a Palestinian diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
A letter from the observer mission accompanying the draft resolution asks U.N. members to support "the enhancement of the status of Palestine in the United Nations General Assembly to be considered by the assembly at a date to be announced in the near future."
There are no vetoes in the General Assembly and the resolution is almost certain to be approved by the world body which is dominated by countries sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Approval of the resolution would elevate the Palestinians to the same status as the Vatican. The draft resolution states that to date, 132 nations have recognized "the State of Palestine."
Israel and the United States are on record opposing the move, saying the Palestinians should first negotiate their statehood with the Jewish state, not take unilateral action and sidestep talks.
Israel's U.N. Mission said it had no immediate comment. Emails to spokespeople for the U.S. Mission were not immediately answered.
The draft resolution, first tweeted by Inner City Press and later obtained by The Associated Press, would have the General Assembly decide "to accord to Palestine Observer State status in the United Nations system, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of the Palestinian people, in accordance with the relevant resolutions and practice."
The upgraded status would add weight to Palestinian claims for a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
The Palestinians also hope to use their upgraded status to join additional U.N. bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, where they could attempt to prosecute Israel.
At the same time, they have expressed fear of financial and diplomatic retaliation.
Following last year's move by the Palestinians to join the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO, the United States withheld funds from the organization, which amount to 22 percent of its budget. The U.S. also withheld money to the Palestinians, and the U.S. Congress has threatened similar sanctions if the Palestinians proceed to improve their status at the U.N. again. Continued...